Canada welcomes return of Nosema treatment
A very effective treatment for Nosema, a deadly disease of honey bees, is now available again in Canada after intensive work by Vita Bee Health in conjunction with the Canadian Honey Council.
Fumagilin-B is a tried and tested preventative and curative antibiotic treatment for Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. It first became available in the 1950s and was widely available in many countries until mid-2018, when the previous manufacturer, Medivet, ceased operations.
With the unavailability of fumagillin, beekeepers have been able to combat Nosema only by indirect methods such as protein feed supplements to boost immune defences, effective varroa control and regular comb changes. These are not always effective under harsh winter conditions. In Canada, because of the extreme low temperatures and long winters, the beehives have to be sealed and insulated from October to March – a long time for the bees to be confined and an ideal environment for Nosema to increase and spread through the colony. Canadian beekeepers were expecting severe winter colony losses if Fumagilin-B remained unavailable for this autumn/fall treatment season.
Now Canadian beekeepers again have access to fumagillin, manufactured in Canada and supplied by Vita Bee Health. The treatment should be administered with autumn/fall and spring feeds as necessary and, as ever, it is vital that beekeepers follow label directions precisely.
Rod Scarlett, executive director of the Canadian Honey Council, welcomed the news about the re-availability of Fumagillin-B saying, “If fumagillin wasn’t available, the consequences of Nosema infections would be dire. Many beekeepers think that without fumagillin we would expect over-wintering colony losses of 50% rather than 25%.”
Max Watkins, CEO of Vita Bee Health, said, “It’s been a long hard road to make Fumagillin-B available to beekeepers again and there’s still a lot of work to be done. We’re confident that we’re on our way to a sustainable supply of Fumagilin-B for Canada. The main reason that Fumagillin-B disappeared from the market place was the closure of the manufacturer when it faced a massive increase in the price of the active ingredient. Inevitably, Fumagilin-B is now more expensive than before, but beekeepers will quickly recognise that, set against colony losses, it is still a very cost-effective solution.”
Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae are parasitic microsporidian fungal pathogens. They can be identified only by microscopic analysis of the honey bee’s mid-gut. The spores multiply rapidly in the gut and can then spread throughout the colony. Nosema apis often leaves tell-tale signs of dysentery inside and more visibly on the outside of the hive (especially noticeable in spring), but the strain Nosema ceranae that originated in Asia often leaves no such traits. Research in Spain has shown that the disease can lead to a steady decline in bees over several months until the colony collapses. At that stage, other diseases such as chalkbrood and foulbrood may have become evident.
About Vita Bee Health
Vita Bee Health is a mite control and honeybee health specialist. It is the world’s largest dedicated supplier of honeybee health products to the honey and pollination industries. With a rigorous and ethical approach to research and development into honeybee health, Vita has no commercial interests in crop pesticides or crop breeding that may be harmful to honeybees.
Vita researches, develops, and manufactures a range of honeybee health products. Its headquarters are in the UK, it has offices in Italy, France and Russia, and partners across the globe. These products are marketed internationally through a network of 60 distributors in 50 countries.
Vita’s honeybee health product range includes anti-varroa acaricides – Apistan® (outside the USA/Canada) and Apiguard® – chalkbrood control, foulbrood diagnostic kits and health-promoting feeds. Vita also supplies Asian hornet traps, Small Hive Beetle traps, a Bee Gym varroa grooming aid and swarm lures. Vita products have been registered by more than 60 veterinary authorities.
Vita promotes sustainable beekeeping through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Its treatments are designed to inhibit the build-up of resistance and wherever possible contain natural compounds and biological controls that are benign to all but the target pests.
Vita invests a very high proportion of its turnover in research and development. Research partners include universities such as Thessaloniki, Cardiff, Milan, Udine and Naples and institutes such as the FERA Laboratories in the UK and the USDA in America. Vita’s innovative research and development work has been recognised by and has received support from the UK Government.
As a result of its primary research of natural control agents, Vita is currently engaged in new projects exploring mite control in the agriculture, veterinary, and horticulture industries as well as public health and human allergen control.
Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
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